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City Rd death trap

Cyclists on notice in promenade overhaul

07 Aug 2019

Cyclists on notice in promenade overhaul Image

The City of Melbourne has released its long-awaited plans to revamp the 300-metre section of Southbank Promenade between Princes Bridge and Evan Walker Bridge.

The $5.1 million stage one overhaul of Southbank Promenade will introduce a suite of new pedestrianisation measures in a bid to force the breaks on speeding cyclists.

Results of a council cycle speed study conducted earlier this year showed that around 95 per cent of riders using the promenade travelled above 15km/h despite council implementing 10km/h speed limit signs and other measures to encourage slower speeds.

While the plans will still allow for recreational cyclists to use the promenade, new street furniture and trees will be used to improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians by encouraging cyclists to slow down.

The renowned Dervish sculpture, which is owned by Arts Centre Melbourne, will also be removed from the promenade and reinstated on the terrace near Hamer Hall to provide more green space.

With the project to start early next year and completed over stages to minimise disruption until 2022, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said council wanted to turn the promenade into a “riverside park”.

“Southbank Promenade hasn’t had a major upgrade in more than 25 years so we’re investing $5.1 million this financial year to make some major improvements,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We will replace the concrete paving with new bluestones, improve public lighting to increase community safety, and install new seats and garden beds.”

“The stage one works are designed to create more public open space outside Hamer Hall between Princes Bridge and Evan Walker Bridge.”

“The configuration of the stairs and ramps will be changed to maximise use of the riverbanks.”

The Lord Mayor said new trees would be planted with a variety of species including Smooth-Barked Apple Trees, Melaleuca (paperbark trees), and Washingtonia robusta (Mexican Fan Palms).

“We will plant 29 new trees with better access to soil and water to increase the canopy cover. The current plane trees were planted in the 1980s but are in a state of decline because they have limited access to soil and moisture,” the Lord Mayor said.

Deputy chair of the City of Melbourne’s major projects portfolio Cr Nicholas Reece said council would be encouraging faster cyclists to use an alternative route via 1km of new bike lanes being implemented as part of the transformation of Southbank Boulevard.

“We want to prioritise the river banks as a destination rather than a through route,” Cr Reece said. “This is based on a study earlier this year which showed that around 95 per cent of cyclists at Princes Bridge were travelling above 15 kilometres an hour.”

“I’m a regular cyclist at Southbank Promenade and like everyone else I’ll be slowing down to take in the wonderful city views.”

Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna welcomed the news, stating an overhaul of the “tired” promenade had been long overdue, but was sceptical as to whether council’s cycling plan would work.

“We are delighted to see investment in Southbank Promenade,” Mr Penna said. “As residents, one of our big concerns has been the speed of cyclists.”

“As outlined, as a recent study by the council identified that 95 per cent of cyclists exceed the 15km/h speed limit. This is of no surprise to the residents. We have continually raised this issue with council for over five years.”

“It is disappointing it has taken this long for any meaningful action. The speed of cyclists has been an accident waiting to happen. Our observations are not the recreational cyclists as being the main problem, but the commuter cyclists.”

“While we are certainly grateful for the separated cycling lanes proposed for Southbank Boulevard, we are sceptical of this proposed solution as council has not provided any evidence to the community to suggest this solution will work.”

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